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 | By Dan Hurlimann | Guest Columnist

Scouting hike takes the faith outdoors

On a beautiful Saturday last fall, 32 Scouts, family members and Scouting leaders from all over the diocese gathered for the inaugural “Walking in Faith” hike sponsored by the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting (DCCS). Father Will Rooney, diocesan Scouting chaplain, hiked with the Scouts and celebrated Mass at the turnaround point at Crockett Gardens Falls on the Good Water trail at Lake Georgetown, transforming a rock into our altar.

Along the hike we viewed the annular eclipse (wearing eclipse glasses provided by the committee), observing the moon progressively move over the sun and the interesting shadow pattern through the leaves onto the trail, reaching Crockett Gardens Falls at the peak of the eclipse. Even with 90-95% of the sun blocked by the moon, the day was bright.

As the Vocations Chairperson for the DCCS, I wanted to provide an easy and natural way for those of us in Scouting to connect with our faith. All types of Scouts hike and enjoy being outdoors. Catholic Scouts also celebrate the sacraments; therefore, celebrating Mass together as a Catholic Scouting family was a highlight. This hike allowed our Scouting youth to spend time with a priest and see him enjoy nature.

After our post-eclipse Mass at the falls, we ate our lunches and enjoyed time for fellowship before the return hike. Along the way back Father Rooney took time to hear confessions and get to know the Scouts.

“It was such a great day to be able to hike with Scouts and families from all over the diocese. Getting to talk with the youth and celebrate Mass together as a scouting family was a joy for me,” Father Rooney said.

For all of us, it was a magnificent day to experience God’s wonderful gifts.

Through leadership and skill development, Catholic youth and leaders in Scouting programs are formed in virtue and faith. The role of the DCCS is to provide Catholic Scouts with continued education in the Catholic faith and to support the growth of Catholic Scouting units in our diocese.

“Scouting is an important aspect of comprehensive parish youth ministry that intentionally reflects our faith and provides a unique experience of growth,” Bishop Joe Vásquez said.

Currently the DCCS supports youth participating in six different Scouting organizations within our diocese: Boy Scouts of America (Capitol Area Council; portions of Longhorn Council, Texas Trails Council and Sam Houston Council) consisting of Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; Girl Scouts of Central Texas; Camp Fire of Central Texas; American Heritage Girls; Trail Life USA and Troops of St. George.

Events sponsored by the DCCS include an annual family retreat, training for adult leaders, an annual Bishop’s recognition Mass, and the Walking in Faith hike, and links to national efforts like the National Eucharistic Revival Activity Program and the St. George Trek backpacking adventure at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

To find a schedule of upcoming events sponsored by the DCCS, or to learn more about the committee, visit

Dan Hurlimann is the Vocation Committee Chairperson for the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting (DCCS). He and his wife Emily enjoy camping, hiking and traveling. They also raised two Eagle Scouts.